June 19, also known as Juneteenth, commemorates the day in 1865 that the last enslaved people in America learned that they had been freed—two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was announced. This week, many people in our country and around the world will be taking time to reflect and honor the weight of this day and the end of the institution of slavery in America.
Although many in the African American community have been celebrating Juneteenth for generations, today the date has gained increased awareness as America advances its ongoing conversation on race and social justice.
Throughout the week, Blackbaud will provide several virtual learning opportunities for our employees to take time to learn about the history and origins of Juneteenth.
This is a topic I am also personally connected to and passionate about. In 2015, I gave a TEDx Talk sharing the story of my great, great grandfather Robert Smalls, an escaped slave who commandeered a confederate naval vessel, bravely freeing his family and others. My family history has impacted so much of who I am today, and I hope it might inspire you, too.
Honoring celebrations and observances is one important way that we at Blackbaud express our commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging. It is important to learn from each other and celebrate our differences so we ALL can feel comfortable being our full and complete selves at work.
For anyone interested in learning more about Juneteenth, historian Karlos K. Hill of the University of Oklahoma explains the history and significance of Juneteenth in this video.